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A thunderstorm rolled in one night and suddenly I saw flash of lightning. A second later I heard the thunder, but the thunder was more of a ka-BOOM! Within seconds our television and cable box went black, totally non-functioning. It happened so quickly. Was it a second after the thunder? If so, one second would be 0.21307 miles away from our home. Later I searched online to see how close this storm had been to us, and I found this website that offers different ways to calculate. Was it a close call for lightning striking our building more significantly? I think so.

Link for calculating: https://www.omnicalculator.com/

physics/lightning-distance


That night we stayed on the couch in front of a blank TV screen and began telling stories about storms and stories about the past. They were more entertaining than what I would have found on TV. My husband ordered a new television a couple of hours later. "How are you going to live without TV and cable?" he asked me. Each night after dinner we conversed, and it was refreshing, and easy. Why haven't we done this more?


I found a piece of art I had made decades ago, and I taped it to the blank screen of the TV. Why not have a decorative looking machine even if it's not working? We have our new TV now, but it's not as entertaining as the story telling hour after each dinner that week.


© 2022 Georgiann Foley




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Our assignment for our New Year's workshop in 1992 was to create a collage of images visualizing the upcoming year in a positive light. The seminar leader had provided piles of magazines to cut out any picture that captured our essence and what we wanted life to be. Sounds a bit far-fetched, but I was ready for something completely different back then in regards to career and dating. Most magazine ads for women presented overly happy females ecstatic about no-cling socks from the dryer, or a woman dressed in gold looking like a queen because she's wearing perfume from a golden bottle. It's not easy finding images to identify with, and then I found this photo of a guy holding a colander of cooked pasta whom I will call "Pasta Man."



Eureka! This ad for men's clothing had a blonde haired man wearing an apron. While his striped shirt and slacks didn't have a wrinkle he's crouched down holding his colander of cooked pasta as if to say, "Pasta's done. Where's the spaghetti sauce? Let's eat!" This was the kind of person I wanted to have in my life. Sure, he's good looking, but there's more. He's cheerful, participatory, and inviting.


"Pasta Man" is cooking for both of us, and by his smile he's inviting me to join him. Surely I wanted the kind of people in my life who make the party, someone who would make the dinner that we would enjoy. I kept this menswear ad for several years as I dated in the 90s. I would come home from these dates and see this image taped to my mirror. Many dates did not "feed me" except sharing a meal at a restaurant. Five years after this workshop I finally did find someone who shared my interests one of which is cooking.


In 2022 I was going through a box of my possessions when I found this image of the "Pasta Man." I recalled the early 1990s, and I thought about how my partner and I do things together including travel and cook. We share our stories and dreams. If I had told the other workshop participants back in the 1990s that I wanted a man who would "feed me" they probably would have said, "Go out to a restaurant on your date." But, it's more than that. To be participatory and inviting is important, too. Sometimes images can sum up the intangibles, and those images can be a springboard for expressing in words what we want to create in life.


© 2022 Georgiann Foley


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In my 20s I thought I could create the pyrotechnic excitement for the 4th of July that I had seen in town displays of fireworks. I was lucky enough to see the city of Chicago's fireworks choreographed to the 1812 Overture at Grant Park. One year I saw the city's fireworks from Lake Shore Drive when all the cars on the drive turned off their engines and parked to watch the display. My show of pyrotechnics was going to be on a lot smaller scale, and my budget and lack of experience pushed to the smaller items. My friend and I bought Roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers, and items that had instructions printed in Chinese.

When we set up our first practice run we chose a more open area in the city on the north side a few days before the 4th. My friend showed me how to set up and light the bottle rockets. Roman candles had to be placed on the ground and lit with plenty of space above for the plumes of sparkling colors. In my own neighborhood the 4th of July on the near south side of Chicago is a bit of a war zone at dusk. It's risky to go for a walk as families are doing the same thing we were trying to do -- run their own fireworks show. Sidewalks, streets, and even worse alleys were staged with pyrotechnics. That year I found out that my pyrotechnic devices, or novelties, must have been old or faulty because the sparklers would sputter and stop. If you lay down a sparkler on the ground that you thought had stopped sometimes it would start up again and begin burning and sparkling unexpectedly. Other novelties were duds as once I lit them they smoked and then went out.


The scariest part of my personal display on my street was the butterfly shaped device that was small enough to fit in the palm of your hand (unlit, of course). The instructions were in Chinese, and the brief drawing of how to position it showed me that I had to place it like a real butterfly -- flat on the ground with its wings up. I did so, and I placed this butterfly about 30 feet away from me and other people. When I lit the butterfly I ran the 30 feet away. The butterfly went slightly upwards about three inches, and then it turned towards me and picked up speed. I began running, and this lit butterfly chased me down the street. Other families who were lighting snakes and poppers, the smaller fireworks were laughing at me. One father and his son had just thrown firecrackers out into the street when I had lit the butterfly, and now there was a loud bang-bang-banging as I sped by. Some of those firecrackers bounced in front of me so I was running and hopping and leaping hoping I wouldn't be caught by a red hot butterfly or firecracker.


This year in 2022 on July 2nd the owner of our RV campground carefully positioned the pyrotechnic novelty devices far away from all of us RV folk sitting on our lawn chairs. Each device was a certain distance away from the other. The owner had several family members at the ready to light different fireworks. It was nicely orchestrated with small to medium fountains of color going while at the end of the parking lot the large fireworks went shooting up into starbursts of red, yellow, and blue high in the sky. A sparkling July sky, and, I didn't have to worry about being chased by a Chinese butterfly while firecrackers banged in and around my feet.


I hope you had a great 4th of July!

© 2022 Georgiann Foley

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